Parties promise voters the moon as polls near, but can they deliver?
HYDERABAD: It’s election time and poll promises are aplenty. The Congress, BJP and even the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi, in a bid to woo voters, are promising them the moon. But can the political players keep their promises? Is it viable or even possible for them to implement their assurances?
No, say economic experts TNIE spoke to. Most said the assurances would be “very difficult” to implement, if not impossible.
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They opine that the entire budget of the State would be insufficient to meet the financial requirements of some of the promises made by the parties.
The Congress, which has been in the Opposition for five years, is determined to wrest power this time and has stirred up a hornet’s nest by assuring waiver of an Rs 2-lakh crop loan in one go. Four years back, the TRS waived crop loans up to Rs1 lakh, which cost the exchequer Rs16,124.37 crore. It was, however, waived in four instalments spreading four budget years.
The grand old party, if voted to power, will need a whopping Rs 32,000 crore to waive the crop loan at one go.
However, the announcement has made the ruling TRS jittery as it has been opposing the Rs 2-lakh waiver, but it remains to be seen whether the TRS will also include the loan waiver in its manifesto.
Another promise made by the Congress was to provide six domestic gas cylinders free of cost per year to all below poverty line (BPL) families. There are around 30 lakh ‘Deepam’ connection households in the State, and so the burden on the exchequer will be thousands of crores of rupees. At present, without subsidy, each gas cylinder is priced at Rs 800.
Currently, the State government grants Rs1,000 to each person under Asara. If the amount is doubled, then the State has to shell out Rs10,000 crore every year.
Under tremendous pressure, the ruling TRS too has jumped the bandwagon and assured that Asara pension would be hiked. The promise will be stated in the party’s manifesto which is likely to be released shortly.
Though TRS leaders initially belittled the promises of the Congress, the party is now mulling over how to counter the Opposition and win the hearts of the people.
“We will release our manifesto very soon. We will make our own manifesto and not depending on what the Opposition is assuring to the voters,” TRS manifesto committee chairman K Keshava Rao said.
In the run-up to the elections, the State BJP too is not lagging behind in showering poll promises.
BJP’s manifesto committee chairman NVVS Prabhakar already announced the payment of house rent to the poor up to Rs 5,000 per month, till the poor got own houses. This promise was dismissed by TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao by saying: “Such a scheme does not exist anywhere in the world”.
Heckling the promises of the Congress, Rama Rao is repeatedly telling an interesting story of a tailor who lost his needle.
“Once, a tailor lost his needle. And vowed that he will give five kg jaggery and five kg sugar to god if his needle is found. His wife shouted at him, you mindless fellow, who will offer expensive gifts to god for the sake of just 10 paise needle? But, the tailor is cool and said: ‘If needle is found, who will realise vows? Whether god will come to us and demand them?’ In the same manner, the Congress, in order to get the power, is promising everything.”
This story of Rama Rao is going well with voters, yet TRS is a little bit shaky about Opposition’s promises. Senior Congress leader and manifesto committee member T Jeevan Reddy said that as per government figures, the growth rate is 22 per cent and it will further increase which means that there will be enough money to implement all promises made by Congress party.
State government advisor (Finance) GR Reddy, the man behind the new State presenting budgets, said: “The implementation of promises of the Opposition are almost impossible. The Opposition should explain where they are going to get the required money. Mere making promises is not sufficient. The liabilities of the state and the source of resources for new promises too should be explained to voters”.